Mid-Shore Pro Bono Elects New Officers and Welcomes New 2021 Board Members

June 1, 2021

Tim Abeska - headshot

EASTON, MD – June 2021 – Mid-Shore Pro Bono (MSPB), a non-profit organization on Maryland’s Eastern Shore that provides free or reduced fee legal services to eligible community members, today announced the addition of four new board members, Ruth Thomas of Preston, Rebecca Burner of Grasonville, Samantha Bowers Welte of Easton and Doncella Wilson of Denton, Maryland.  Previous treasurer Timothy Abeska has been named president of the Board of Directors.

“These new directors will provide strategic direction for the continued growth of our organization,” said Sandy Brown, executive director, Mid-Shore Pro Bono.  “We are excited to channel their talents, expertise and energy into furthering our mission.”

Ruth Thomas, Preston Maryland

Ruth Thomas has worked with attorneys for twenty years and has a deep understanding of the non-profit sector, specifically related to fundraising.  Her role as the USA Vice President for Finance and Administration for SAT-7 North America in Maryland, involves experience in forecasting, marketing, development and financial and personnel management.  She is also trained in legacy giving methods and campaigns and has testified on the issue of charitable deductions.  “One of the top reasons people give to non-profits is financial accountability.  They want to know their gifts are being used wisely.  I am looking forward to working with the board to strengthen fiscal transparency to grow our donor base.”

Rebecca Burner, Grasonville, Maryland

Rebecca Burner brings more than thirty-five years of government relations experience to the board through her work with the Maryland General Assembly.  Her expertise lies in budgeting, finance, and personnel administration.  She has worked for the Maryland Department of Budget and Management, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, and the Maryland Department of the Environment.  Her professional experience will become a critical part of successfully fulfilling MSPB’s mission and achieving internal and external goals.

“Access to justice should be impartial and non-discriminatory. Yet there is an obvious gap when it comes to the availability of legal services to people from low socio-economic backgrounds.  I am looking forward to helping close that gap and assuring that all people have access to representation when dealing with civil legal issues.”

Samantha Welte, Easton, Maryland

Samantha Welte’s experience working with English as a Second Language (ESL) students in Talbot County Public Schools has exposed her to the reality of immigration issues which many local families are facing.  This is what attracted Samantha to MSPB.  “We have children disappear because they have been deported. I think Mid-Shore Pro Bono is providing an extremely valuable public service to all members of the community because the work they are doing helps stabilize these types of situations for all segments of society.”

Samantha’s professional experience as an educator spans across many diverse areas including curriculum development, research, advocacy, evaluation, and fundraising.  Her expertise in the representation of diverse populations through her role as an educational advisor to Seattle Public Schools will provide insight to the way in which MSPB represents community immigration challenges.

Doncella Wilson, Denton, Maryland

As a licensed social worker, Doncella Wilson monitors programs for the Governor’s Office for Children to facilitate local care teams which include state agencies, community partners and families.  Her experience as an intake coordinator for Mentor Maryland, provided her the opportunity to work with children and adolescents who are in foster care and clients with mental health diagnoses to identify placements, eligibility for community-based care and offers counsel to families on coping strategies.  This work has brought her close to the clinical, therapeutic, and programmatic issues these families are exposed to on a regular basis.  As a Denton town council member, Doncella understands the importance of continued community support, compliance, and efficiencies in the public sector.

The newly elected executive committee consists of:

  • Timothy Abeska, President
  • Jim McComb, Vice President
  • Mike Starling, Esq., Treasurer
  • Holland Brownley, Esq., Secretary

The 2021 board also includes Sarah Dahl, Esq., Tawes Harper, Stephanie A. Shipley, Esq., and Judith Showalter, Esq.

Tim Abeska, who has served on the board for several years, is the newly elected board president.  Tim’s experience includes managing a nineteen-member litigation department, service on the Management Committee of what was then an Am Law 200 law firm (now an Am Law 100 firm), thirty-five years of managing a busy law practice, and service on the Board of Directors of the Indiana Bar Foundation.

“I am looking forward to working with the board on expanding our outreach to the communities we serve so we can increase awareness and client referrals,” said Abeska.  “I’m also excited to work on the development of a robust fundraising program to recruit and retain donors with the goal of providing unrestricted funding to better fulfill MSPB’s mission.”

For more information about MSPB, please visit midshoreprobono.org or call 410-690-8128.

About Mid-Shore Pro Bono

The goal of Mid-Shore Pro Bono is to strengthen the communities of Maryland’s Eastern Shore by ensuring equal access to civil justice through connecting low-income individuals and families in need of civil legal help with volunteer attorneys and community resources. Based on this belief, we envision a community where all individuals should feel respected and empowered throughout the legal system.  To learn more or to support our work please visit www.midshoreprobono.org.